Man remanded in custody over alleged shooting in Gżira

The court remanded the accused in custody due to the risk of tampering with evidence and the seriousness of the charges which include shooting a man in the leg

Two men were arraigned in court this morning as a result of an investigation into a shooting at a Gżira bar earlier this month.

Christopher Philip Agius, 32, from Paola, appeared in court under arrest before magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo on Wednesday.

Prosecutors Darlene Grima, Etienne Savona from the Office of the Attorney General, assisting police inspectors Wayne Camilleri and Michael Vella, charged Agius with inflicting grievous bodily harm to the victim, threatening him with a firearm, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime against a person, carrying a firearm in public without a licence, failing to inform the police that he had come into possession of an unregistered firearm and breaching the peace.

Lawyer David Gatt, assisting Agius, who told the court that he was unemployed, told the court that the man would be pleading not guilty.

Bail was also requested, with Gatt arguing that the footage of the incident showed the victim, whom Gatt stressed was a foreigner, had attacked his client who then shot him in the leg. 

“He didn’t go there to shoot anyone,” said the lawyer.  “He doesn’t have a clue who the injured party is and was chased outside by the injured party.”

The prosecution objected to the request for bail, citing the very serious nature of the charges, the fact that civilian witnesses were yet to testify, and the risk of the defendant tampering with evidence while on bail. Doubts were also cast on Agius’ trustworthiness, the prosecution telling the court that he did not reside at the address that he had just provided the court with.

Emphasising the claim that his client acted in self-defence, Gatt told the court that Agius might not have even been in court today had he not shot the victim, “because he’d have been on the other side by now.”

Nevertheless, the court remanded Agius in custody due to the risk of tampering with evidence and the seriousness of the charges.

Second man charged over bail breach

Another man, Aaron Cassar, who had shared a hotel room with the alleged shooter on the night of the incident was also arraigned, accused of breaching his bail conditions.

Inspector Camilleri told the court that when he and Inspector Michael Vella had started investigating the report of a man being wounded by a gunshot at the Black Gold Saloon in Sliema, which the police had received at around 1:30am on November 3.

Two men were identified from CCTV footage from the surrounding area, he said, shooter Christopher Agius, accompanied by Cassar.

Cassar did not take part in the shooting, explained the policeman, but said that it was noted that Cassar was out on two sets of bail conditions at the time of the incident and should have been at home under curfew at that time.

“We found that they had spent a night at the Radisson Golden Sands in Ghajn Tuffieha, with Cassar sleeping there between the 12th and 13th, thereby breaching his bail conditions again,” added the inspector.

Cassar was later arrested in Triq il-Wied, Birkirkara.

Answering a question put to him by defence counsel David Gatt, the inspector confirmed that the man’s curfew was extended to midnight and that he had signed his bail book every day.

Gatt stressed that this meant that Cassar had been arrested 1 hour and 15 minutes after curfew and suggested that Cassar had been unable to stay at his designated address for personal reasons.

After the parties approached the bench and discussed the case privately for several minutes, an admission of guilt was made.

The court adjourned Cassar’s case for sentencing to a date later this month.